Symbolism of the Vedic Deities
The concept of God in the RigVeda is not of a placid figure who sends commandments and orders a dictatorial regime on the planet.
The Rig Veda talks of Gods who represent the many shades of human thought and emotions.
They are the personification of the inner faculties within consciousness.
The thought of God arouses feelings within us in congruence to our innermost alignments.
On the other hand people who do not understand God or do not bother about the concept of God think of idols and images as superstition, fetishes, as emblems of crude sacrifices.
They are unaware of the Truth behind Gods.
They are unable to see original life within gods, as the magical faces of the One Cosmic being. This is their irony.
It should be well understood that there is nothing rigidly defined about the ancient gods within Sanatana Dharma.
They are not placid images where each god is distinct with nothing to do with the “other” god.
The term that should be associated with gods, that represent the inner dimensions of human consciousness and the aggregate whole of the same known as the one “God”, is the term “Divine”.
Comparing Devatas with Bhagawan or Parabrahman
Each Devata represents God.
They represent the ultimate one in some sense, the aspect of the “Divine” in one form or the other.
The names that represent the 33 grades of the gods within the Dharma are but the different dimensions of the One Divine.
In that sense each Devata is that One God (Parabrahman) and vice-versa.
‘Devata is Prabrahman’ is a partial fact though.
Let understand the differences and similarities in detail now.
Similarities between Devatas and Bhagawan
Let’s take Surya Devata as an example.
Lord Surya represents valour, brilliance and wisdom.
In other words, an embodiment of these extraordinary qualties is Surya Devata.
Now, the Supreme Lord, (call it Narayana, Parabrahma or Krishna), comprise within them, not just the Qualties of Surya Bhagawan, but way more beyond that.
They will contain qualities of Beauty, Power, Fame, Brilliance, Virtues, etc.
However, Surya Devata becomes a part and parcel of the Lord as he represents certain set of qualtiies that are ingrained in the Lord.
In this way, the Devata becomes similar to the Supreme Lord, but cannot become Parabrahman.
So, Surya Devata is just a personification of a particular attribute of the Lord, whereas the Lord is an ocean of unheard exceptional qualities.
Summing up this example by saying that the 33 Gods are parts and parcels of the Lord and are representatives of the Lord.
However, they cannot match the Lord completely.
So, disrespecting the Devatas is an offence as they are representative of Bhagawan.
Differences between Devatas and Bhagawan
From the above discussion we concluded that Devatas are also Para Brahman, yet different from them.
What makes them really different if they possess the virtues of God?
Well, it is their incompleteness and the possession of vices that makes them starkly different from God.
In the previous segment of this article we saw that they are but, very similar to God.
But, now we shall see the 2 major atttributes that sets them extremely separate from Parabrahman.
Incompleteness: They have limited virtues when compared to Bhagawan.
This was discussed in the sense of completeness in the previous section. Here, we saw the same point in the ‘half glass empty’ analogy.
Devatas possess only a speck of the Divine qualities. This makes them incomplete.
Possessing Vices: Indra has been inflicted with pride, lust and envy in several instances.
Chandra has been inflicted by lust, pride and partiality in certain other instances.
Similarly, Sri Brahma (an extremely exalted Bhakta and his vices is only meant to teach a lesson to the world) was inflicted by Maya or ignorance when he saw Sri Krishna’s childhood pastimes with the Gopas of Vrindavan.
All these go to say that Devatas are prone to make errors and the veil of illsuion can blindfold them any time.
Although they are possessors of virtues, they are susceptible to the black shadows of vices as well.
These 2 shortcoming clearly indicate that they are Brahman itself and yet they cannot equate the supremacy of Brahman.
Unity and Diversity of Gods
People might ask that why are there so many devatas?
Well, the answer is quite simple.
Each devata inspires man to consciously appreciate each and every quality ingrained in the Supreme Lord.
The variety of Devatas exist for man to understand the diversity, present in Bhagawan.
When we take notice of each devata, we are appreciating and taking notice of each quality of God.
Also, in the material sense, we are seeking specific benefits from the Devatas.
In short, Devatas in the material world, cater to specific aspects of human life.
All these Devatas with representing the various potencies of Gods, they also represent the various facets of human life.
In the spiritual sense, the represent the powers of God, visible to spiritually evolved beings, like Bhaktas and Jnanis.
But, for common man Devatas are benefactors of desires.
They are designated to control human life through their power. By invoking them, rdinary man can gain some profit.
The gods flow in and out of each other and from the One Divine in its various powers and as the many principles of Truth.
Behind each usage of the term God is the sense of unity and universality of that One Divine, its infinite power of manifestation, each of which reflects the being of the totality.
The unity of God contains within itself unity, duality and multiplicity all at the same time, supplementing each other.
God is a unity who contains within Himself, without the slightest contradiction, an unlimited creative diversity.
This unity does not exclude anything whatsoever.
Explanation of Vedic Gods in Rig Veda
Before we proceed we must understand that the Contents of the Rig Veda cover a huge variety of topics aimed at uplifting human consciousness.
So, the subject matter of Devatas is just one such topic of this revered scripture.
Yet, it becomes important for us to contemplate and grasp the intent of the scripture to be able to reep the benefits of its teachings.
In the ancient thought about gods, especially in the RigVeda, monism, monotheism, polytheism all exist together in mutual harmony.
They do not include the artificial contortions that the mind creates.
It does not include the mind with its humongous limitations, but the fact of life and existence, which is a unity, which the mind can never measure or comprehend, define or exhaust.
This comprehensive nature of the gods we find in the RigVeda.
The diversity of the ancient gods is not according to a real multiplicity or polytheism.
Instead, it is according to a universal creative vision that sees one in all and all in one.
This vision of Gods, consummately comprehends unity in multiplicity and multiplicity in unity.
Also, it indicates the harmony and integration of all views and ideas in the multidimensional being of consciousness.
This realization, cannot be a product of the mind.
It is a synthetic intuitive perception beyond all dichotomies of the limited intellect, and of course, not of a primitive imaginative process running beneath it.
The gods are an organic comprehension, of an exceptional perceptive ability to be able to “see” without the distortions of the mind and intellect.
Devatas are the beings behind the true glory of life that is in front of us and also a life that lies way beyond the limited abilities of perception, of our mundane senses.
The gods, are the source of the impressions that leave their marks on our minds.
Note that Devatas are extremely limited in their ability to perceive and yet they carry with them the powers and principles of the Divine nature.
They helps us function within the domain of the limited senses.
The gods are the lightning that requires no system but moves with spontaneity, all-illuminating and ever unfolding, as life progresses.
They are sources of material energy in full glory.
Thanks for reading!